On July 15, 2012 President Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The USCIS started accepting applications in August, 2012.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an immigration program for undocumented youth who were brought to the US before age 16, and who have been raised and educated in communities around the US. It is not a visa status; rather it is a decision reached by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that it will not take any negative action against an undocumented youth for being physically present in the US in undocumented status. If action is deferred, this means that the youth now is known to USCIS, and USCIS will issue an Employment Authorization Document for the youth, which in turn, allows the youth to obtain a Social Security Number and a State Driver’s License.
Most children are brought to the US by a family member. The parent or other family member may have entered the US legally on a tourist visa, and simply overstayed. Others may have crossed over the border between Mexico and the US through California, Arizona or Texas. Still others may have come by small boat through the Caribbean, landing in the US.
Many adults either bring their children with them, or the relatives, who remain back in the country of origin caring for the children, can no longer care for the children, and pay someone to bring the children to the US.
Children come to the US as young as only days old. However the children enter the US, they would not be here but for the actions of adults in their lives.
Many years ago, a colleague brought a law suit on behalf of undocumented children, who were prohibited from going to school in Texas. She argued before the US Supreme Court eventually, stating that if we prevented these undocumented children from attending our schools, we would foster a subculture of unvaccinated, uneducated generations, which puts all of us at risk for resurgence of diseases heretofore eradicated, and puts the future of our country in peril if we cannot compete on an educated basis in the future world markets.
These children are not leaving. They are part of our communities and our future.
Many have no memory of their country of birth, only speak English, and know
the US as their only home. She argued that these children should not be penalized for something that was completely outside their control. She won, and since that time, all children inside the US must be permitted to attend school,
and must be vaccinated in order to be permitted to enroll in school (with limited exceptions) Undocumented children have attended our elementary, middle and high schools. The American people have invested in these children.
To qualify for DACA, a child must meet the following criteria:
1 Be inside the US
2 Have arrived in the US prior to the child’s 16th birthday
3 Be under 31 years of age on June 15, 2012
4 Have a high school diploma, GED, have served in the military, or be currently in school
5 Have been in the US at least 5 years as of June 15, 2012,
6 Have no criminal history, or convictions for only minor offenses
There is no application filing fee for Deferred Action, however, there is a fingerprint filing fee and a filing fee for the Employment Authorization Document (EAD card).
Some young people are afraid to apply, because they fear that they could be removed/deported by USCIS, especially if action is not deferred. However, many Deferred Actions have now been approved by USCIS. The benefits are far too crucial not to apply.
When the youth obtains his/her EAD card, the youth can apply for a Social Security number which will allow the youth to pay taxes in the US,contribute to our social security system and which will allow the youth to obtain a valid State Driver’s License. Having a valid driver’s license protects us all. No one wants to be involved in any motor vehicle incident with an unlicensed driver.
Undocumented youth are our neighbors, they play with our children, they win science fair awards and they deliver our pizzas. They are a part of our communities, our culture and the future of the United States.
Just imagine the tears of joy when I call a cell phone and tell the young person that he/she will be receiving an EAD card shortly because USCIS has accepted the case that we presented.
This young person may have been living in the US for close to 30 years and may be the first person in the family to be issued an EAD card. I made one such telephone call the day before Thanksgiving. That was a very good call.